Pittsburgh Pirates Minor League Report

Pittsburgh Pirates Minor League Report

<b>NASHVILLE</b><br> Pitcher Dave Williams has struggled to make his way back to the majors since he underwent season-ending surgery July 11, 2002 to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

He probably moved to the top of the Pirates recall list Sunday when he was named to play for the Pacific Coast League against the International League in the annual Triple-A All-Star Game in Pawtucket, R.I. on July 14. It is the first time he has ever been selected to a professional all-star game.

Williams, 25, is second in the PCL with 70 strikeouts and leads the Sounds with a 3.96 ERA in 88 2-3 innings. He is 4-2 in his 15 starts and has held opponents to two runs or less in 10 of those appearances.

Many believe third baseman Chris Truby outplayed Chris Stynes in spring training and should have gone north with the Pirates from Bradenton. So far, Truby has Sounds fans singing his praises while Stynes continues to be booed in Pittsburgh.

Heading into Sunday night's game against Memphis, Truby led all regulars with a .298 average, 22 doubles, 13 homers, 57 RBI and 25 walks.

Even with his first home run and a three RBI Performance in the Pirates ninth straight win, a 6-2 beating of Milwaukee at PNC Park, Stynes has been a disappointment, batting only .218 with a homer and 16 RBI in 142 at-bats.

John VanBenschoten can't win a game since he's joined the Sounds, but his 3-7 record can't hide the 3.93 ERA that is second on the team behind Williams. The 2001 first-round pick of the Pirates is making enough noise that he could be a September call-up this season.

If not sooner.

After winning the Eastern Division last year, Nashville is 8.5 games behind Oklahoma and, with a loss to Memphis Sunday, in jeopardy of falling even further back. … It was opening game of a four-game series with the Redbirds. … Infielder Freddy Sanchez, the key prospect in the deal that sent Scott Sauerbeck and Jeff Suppan to Boston at last season's trade deadline, is batting .208 with three RBI as he continues his return from a stress fracture.

Altoona will be well represented when the Eastern League all-stars take the field for the July 14 game at Bowie M.D.

Pitcher Ian Snell and OF Chris Duffy were selected by ans as part of the Eastern League's fan balloting process. Fans from each of the 12 Eastern League cities selected one pitcher and one position player to represent their respective clubs.

Also earning a spot on the Southern Division All-Star Team are pitcher Brian Bullington and second baseman Jeff Keppinger.

Snell is 6-4 with a 3.13 ERA in 16 starts for the Curve this season, while Duffy has posted a .295 average with 5 five homers, 28 RBI and 21 stolen bases.

Bullington, the first overall selection in the 2002 draft, has gone 6-4 with a 3.80 ERA in his first 16 starts for Altoona. The right-hander will also participate in Major League Baseball's All-Star Futures Game July 11 in Houston.

Keppinger, who was at one point leading all of baseball with a .389 average, has cooled a bit in the past week. He was batting .274 heading into the Curves game Sunday against Harrisburg with one homer and 27 RBI.

Pitcher Zach Duke struck out the side in his only inning of work as the California League All-Stars took on the Carolina League's best at Arrowhead C.U. Park in San Bernardino. Duke is 9-4 with a 1.38 ERA this season for the Hillcats.

Outfielder Rajai Davis, who is batting .309 with 31stolen bases, got into the game as a late-inning replacement.

While Duke and Davis have already had their all-star fun, outfielder Jorge Cortes will have to a wait a little while. Until July 11 actually.

Cortes was the only player from the Hillcats to be selected to play in the Futures Game at Minute Maid Park in Houston as part of this season's major league all-star festivities.

Last season's South Atlantic League MVP is currently batting .298 with five homers and 36 RBI in 67 games with the Hillcats.

Infielder Jon Benick entered Sunday's action with the 10th best batting average in the South Atlantic League. The 24-year-old from Wilkes-Barre, Pa. was batting .312 with 17 homers and 56 RBI. He and teammate Adam Boeve were tied for second in the league in homers, one behind Asheville's Ian Stewart.

The Crosscutters, like every other team in the Pirates organization, has fallen on hard times a bit after sweeping all six division titles last season

Williamsport (6-12) is in fifth place, 6.5 games behind Brooklyn in the McNamara Division of the North-Penn League standings after being swept by the Cyclones this weekend.

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